Charleston area libraries offer gardening classes | Features

Audrey J. Powers

GOOSE CREEK — For those interested in learning more about growing and taking care of flowers, vegetables or even the grass on your lawn, consider attending a gardening class at your local library.

The Berkeley County Library System has been hosting gardening classes for as long as senior branch librarian Nanette Hamilton can remember. She said locals are interested in the topic.

“There’s a Facebook page called ‘Goose Creek Gardeners’ that gets a lot of traffic,” she said. “There’s an active interest in gardening in the community.”

Christopher Burtt, the urban horticulture extension agent for Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties with Clemson Cooperative Extension, taught a class on July 23 at the Goose Creek Library about summer tasks — essentially what gardeners should do to take care of their plants over the summer.

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Christopher Burtt (right) talks through gardening tips with attendees after a class at Berkeley County Library in Goose Creek on Saturday, July 23, 2022. Henry Taylor/Staff

“Summer is one of those times where it’s really about problem solving and troubleshooting. It’s hot, plants are stressed, it’s stressful to be outside,” Burtt said. “For the most part, the best thing to do is just make sure everything’s as happy as possible.”

This isn’t Burtt’s first time teaching a class. He has done a series at the Charleston County Public Library about different types of gardening, ranging from vegetable gardening to edible gardening. He previously taught a couple of classes with the Berkeley County Library System as well.

Hamilton said she’s noticed people are usually interested in Burtt’s classes.

“I noticed at the last class that they were taking notes,” Hamilton said. “I think they were very engaged.”

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Throughout the class, Burtt talked about a number of things: making sure not to overwater or underwater plants, how to make sure they aren’t stressed — and therefore vulnerable to disease — as well as how to take care of specific flowers and vegetables. After the class, he stuck around to answer people’s questions, and would look at the plants people brought in themselves.

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A green anole hangs out on the outside window next to the Berkeley County Library’s plant exchange in Goose Creek on Saturday, July 23, 2022. Like a little library, anyone can drop off a potted plant they grew and add a tag introducing them before taking one home from the sill. Henry Taylor/Staff

Burtt said he enjoys talking about plants and how to take care of them, as well as interacting with the people who attend the classes.

“It’s a group of people that we don’t necessarily reach with some of our other classes, say, Master Gardener, or any of the other programs I do. This one’s kind of more straightforward,” Burtt said. “Maybe someone’s not necessarily interested in gardening, but says, ‘Hey, I’ll be at the library and maybe I’ll pop in.’ It kind of allows our reach to be a little bit broader. Even if it’s one or two people more, maybe we can get someone interested in gardening that wasn’t originally.”

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Kris Amundson and husband Mark attended Burtt’s class. She said she had attended gardening classes at the library before, but she and Mark were both excited for Burtt’s class because they have watched “Making it Grow,” a show about gardening and horticulture on the South Carolina ETV network produced by Clemson University.

“He was wonderful. He had a nice outline, and he had a sequence that you could follow. He answered specific questions for specific people,” she said. “It was well thought-out, it was well-presented. He was a good speaker.”

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Meghan Bartos (left) places her hand on her chin while taking a break from making notes during a gardening class with Christopher Burtt at the Berkeley County Library in Goose Creek on Saturday, July 23, 2022. Henry Taylor/Staff

Meghan Bartos had just moved to Goose Creek in May, and the class Burtt was teaching was the first gardening class she had attended at the library. She’s familiar with gardening, but unfamiliar with the hardiness zone — the standard by which gardeners can determine which plats are most likely to thrive at a location based on average minimum winter temperature, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture — she’s moved into.

“I moved here from South Dakota. I am totally clueless (down here). I tell people, ‘I can garden all day up North, in Zone 4 I know what to do. Zone 8, I don’t have a clue,’” Bartos said.

Bartos said she plans on going to gardening classes the Berkeley County Library System offers in the future.

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Christopher Burtt brings in the crop of Carolina Reaper peppers that grew from his plant to a gardening instructional class at the Berkeley County Library in Goose Creek on Saturday, July 23, 2022. Henry Taylor/Staff

“It was very knowledgeable, a lot of eye-opening in what I can do and what I can’t do. I have to change my whole thought process. I’m excited to find out these classes happen fairly often. I need them,” Bartos said.

Burtt said he hopes to help people have a better understanding of gardening and a greater appreciation for the environment after attending his classes.

“It’s really important for us as human beings to be better stewards of the environment,” Burtt said. “My main goal is to educate and inform, so that people can be better at improving their landscapes. That in turn improves the overall environment around us.”

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